Sunday, October 28, 2007

A-Day & further schoolyard blues

A-Day was last Monday, actually. We finally had the appointment with the expert psychologist (who cost quite a bit and had a six week waiting list) who gave us our official diagnosis regarding F's Aspergers Syndrome.

And yes. It's an unequivocal yes.

The 'unequivocal' was the greatest shock. She said: 'He's not borderline, there's no doubt about this. He's right in the middle. He's a classic case.'

I'd always figured that if he was Asperger's, he would be on the borderline.

But I trust this woman. She knows what she's doing, she's an expert in the field. And she took us through exactly why she had reached her conclusion, and it made sense.



Telling F about it was the hardest part. Though, I did have to raise it all with him a fortnight ago, so in a way it wasn't as tough as it could have been.

His reaction has been mixed. Not delighted, but not too bad either, considering. Nobody enjoys being told there's a label that fits them.

The explanation was of the 'it's the way your mind works, it's just the kind of personality you have, there's nothing wrong with it' variety. You know: 'These things are harder for you, but these things are easier. You're so interested in the things you really love and you're really good at, and so much of your brain is concentrating on that, that there's not so much room left for the little things in life like remembering where you put your shoes.' And yes, we did 'Albert Einstein had Aspergers and he was the smartest man who ever lived'. (He admires Einstein.)

The next day he got into a fight in the schoolyard over a footy and swore at a kid, in a way he hasn't since first term. And had a fit of perfectionism over a painting, scribbling over it in black and demanding his teacher not hang it.

He said 'It feels weird, being Asperger's. It just feels wrong.' Does it help to talk about it? 'No. It makes me feel worse.' Does it help that other people in the family have it? 'No.' Does it help that kids in your school have it? 'A little.' Does it help that another kid in your class - we don't know who - has it? 'Yes.'

The next day was fine. Dad and I came to school to help with reading, which he loved.


Thursday, he came out of his classroom frowning. 'W punched me in the head five times' he said. 'And now I have a headache. And he tried to kick me here, too.' In the stomach.
(Summary: the football went over a fence, W collected it, F offered - in a cheeky manner no doubt - to kick it over because 'I can kick further than you' - W attacked him with multiple punches to the head and said attempted kick.)
'Did you tell a teacher?'
'What did she say?'
'It was the yard duty teacher. She did nothing.'
F looked miserable. He started to cry.
'That's IT!' Fury is coursing through my veins. I won't lie and pretend that it's all related to the incident at hand. This is complicated, highly nuanced fury. It mixes all this week's tension, all my added worry for F, all my hatred for W (brother of A, son of The Mother, for those in the know) and my knowledge that W will definitely not be punished by his parents for this.

W is in Prep. He has the same teacher, L, who F had for Prep, an absolutely delightful woman who had a special place in her heart for my complicated son. She wanted to have him tested in Prep and the Deputy Principal said no. I am furious when I think of the added understanding that would have informed the last two years if her suggestion had been followed.

'I'm going to find L!' I smoulder. 'Don't worry, F, I'll sort this out.' His sniffles halt. I take his arm and fairly stalk across the yard to L's classroom, walking right past the culprit and his mother. I am far too angry to speak to her. And I can't bear the thought of listening to her verbal diahorrea today. Plus, it will do no good.

L is surprised to see us, but receptive. I explain the problem.
'Who was the yard duty teacher?' she asks F.
'I don't know her name.' F repeats what he told me earlier. He wrinkles his brow. 'She looks like a teenager, though. She's very SHORT.'
'I know who it is,' smiles L. 'I'll talk to her. I tell you what, I'll set up a meeting between you and W tomorrow. Here, I'll write it on the board.'
As she painstakingly writes their two names on the whiteboard, W and his mother enter the room ad sit on a chair behind her. I look at them awkwardly as she continues to talk. W is slumped on his mother's lap.
'Um, here they are!' I say.
'Oh!' says L. 'Speak of the devil!'
'What's going on?' asks the Mother.
L explains.
'Oh' says the Mother. 'We're here because he didn't get his pancake for lunch today and he had no lunch.'
'I'm sure he did.'
'No I didnnnnnnnnnn't' W dissolves into tears, snot running into his mouth.
'We'll talk about this tomorrow?' says L.
'Sure, fine.' F and I leave. I'm a bit pissed off that not getting a pancake takes precedence over punching someone in the head.

I see F's teacher and approach her.
'Did you know about what happened in the playground?'
'Um, YES' she says. 'But R says it didn't happen.'
I don't know quite what happens to me next, but I can say that all my pent-up rage and frustration were channelled in my response.
'I'm SORRY' I say, 'But I don't believe a word WB says. He's a liar. That child has ... I've had his mother phone me before and say F has done all sorts of things to him, and when I've finally got to the phone he's said maybe it didn't happen. SO ... I'm sorry, but I place no store by what he says.'
'Well, it was R who said it didn't happen.'
I kneel to zip up F's jacket, not looking at her, and stand again.
'Ok, I'd listen to him, but not to W. Anyway, we saw L and she's sorting it out. It's fine.'

And I sweep out of the classroom, F in hand. As we collect our bikes and pedal through the school gates, I assure F that I will make them take him seriously. Rather unwisely, I splurt: 'W is a passive-aggressive little shit.'
'Sorry, I didn't say that.'
At the bottom of the street, as we pause, side-by side, waiting to cross, F's face crumples a little.
'Do you know what the worst thing is?' he whispers, dissolving into fresh tears, this time erupting from deep within his gut. 'When I was on the ground in pain, they said I was faking. And then ... then ... L was trying to comfort me, and they ... they pulled him off me. They didn't want me to feel better.' He is almost incoherent now. 'It REALLY hurt my feelings.'
I hurriedly pop my bike stand and climb off to hug him close. A dribble of kids in school uniform parts to flow around s and pass on their way home. I fumble in his bag for tissues and blow his nose. I am so sad for him that I want to cry too.
'I'm sure they didn't mean to.'

We gather ourselves and continue on our way home. He streaks ahead, and I can't help saying again, loudly enough to be heard by the mothers with prams behind me, but not loud enough for him to hear me again: 'passive-agressive little shit'.

At home, F goes straight to bed. I make him a hot Milo, but it goes cold on his bedside table as he, amazingly, burrows into sleep. When he wakes up, his forehead and cheeks flame with fever.

He stays home sick the next day, Friday, though I pack him off to his school sleepover that night with a bottle of Panadol for the teachers and instructions. I'm not about to take him away from social situations right now.

I fall assleep on the couch soon after dropping him off and therefore don't check the time I'm to pick him up in the morning before. The Husband and I wake at 8am, the same time we are meant to collect him.

We are late, but he is unfazed, sitting in a corner of the library deep in a book. And he had a great time. Thank god.


ThirdCat said...

Bloody hell.

That's harrowing. But that was good call, taking him to the sleepover, wasn't it?

elsewhere said...

LOL, xxx

Ariel said...

Thanks to both of you. And TC, any 'good call' on my parenting is just SO gratefully received right now ...

cristy said...

Oh Ariel, that sounds so difficult. Well done for standing up for your son and basically keeping your cool.

I am slightly dreading school now.

Ariel said...

Ta Cristy. Though as you'll see, perhaps I didn't keep my cool so well after all ... at least, not today. Oh well. Didn't have much cool left.

I'm SURE school will be better for you and yours. I just know they're not all like this. And, as I now realise, it's obviously worse for a child with Aspergers. I have a feeling that you & Paul will pick well, school-wise. Just follow your values, is my advice ...